Possible NY SAFE Act Rifle Seizures In Lancaster, NY

A commenter tipped me to this post by an attorney on NYFirearms.com about a possible NY SAFE Act weapon seizure:

Well everyone, it has apparently already begun. One of our members and a friend had two rifles seized by the Lancaster PD on April 16. Here are the circumstances. They were shooting on private land with permission. A nearby resident who happened to be a retired police chief called the police and reported that there was shooting very close to his house and he found a round in his yard. He did not see the round fired or land but claimed it came from the quarry where these individuals were shooting. There were three guys total.

When the police showed up they accused the three of firing the round into the chief’s property. They all denied it. They had a large backstop and the distance was far. The bullet drop would have been at least 9 feet (distance of over 170 feet) and there is no way it hit the property. However even if it did, it would have been inadvertent and shooting regularly occurs on this property. The police demanded to know if they had permission to shoot there, they all said yes they had oral permission. The police then lied and stated that they are guilty of trespassing if the permission is not in writing. That is completely false. Our member then invoked his right to speak with an attorney, and the officer copped an attitude saying something to the effect so you think you are a smart guy and immediately cuffed him. All three were taken to the station. The rifles were locked in the trunk before the police arrived so they did not see them. They impounded the car. Our member was released, as was one of his friends. The individual firing the 9mm rounds that they claimed was the one that hit the property was charged with reckless endangerment. The police chief produced a pristine 9mm bullet and our member saw it and believes it was pulled from a case and never fired. Although they were released, the car was held until today.

When our member went to retrieve his car, both rifles that were locked in the trunk were gone, as was their cases. They were not give a receipt or any notice of seizure. Neither has been charged at this time. The configuration of the rifles is as follows: our member’s rifle was an AR-15 chambered in 5.56 with the ARMR2 device attached, it had features. The other rifle was a Beretta CX4 Storm chambered in 9mm. It was featureless. Neither was registered. Clearly the Beretta would not have to be registered under any scenario, it was featureless. Therefore the seizure of both is puzzling at this time. There are several possibilities: 1) they claim the rifles were non-complaint and were seized as being in violation of the Safe Act. However there was no discussion about whether the owners reasonably believe they were compliant, and the chance given to register. Nor were they charged. I would expect one of the two to occur. 2) they intend to charge him but have not done so yet. 3) they seized the rifles as instruments used in the commission of a crime (reckless endangerment). However that is also puzzling because they would have to be told the firearms were being held as evidence against the individual charged, and are entitled to a receipt. They did not get one. The only other possibility is that they actually claim the trespass was the crime. This type of trespass is not a crime even if it is true. It is a civil matter.

I felt this was significant enough that you all should be advised and forewarned. I cannot at this time state this is a Safe Act case yet because we just don’t know yet. But something is rotten in Denmark. The member has been advised to call the police tomorrow and advise the rifles where compliant, they both had legal advice they were so, and that they believed in good faith they were compliant and registration was not required. They will ask for the return of the rifles. I will update you all. If we determine this has nothing to do with the Safe Act, I will immediately let you know. The member wanted me to post this so you all know about this. Right now, I believe they seized them as Safe Act violations. Nothing else makes any sense given the facts. Stay tuned.

NOTE: I apologize a couple of points were incorrect. I did not have my notes when I posted this. The bullet was a 9mm round. Not 5.56. The backdrop was 50 feet high, and the bullet drop was 9 feet not 9 inches for that distance. He was not Mirandized at any time but were asked to consent to a search. He declined. That is why the search did not occur until after the impounding. I corrected the OP but wanted to make sure whoever already read it realized it was a 9mm round, not 5.56.

Here’s a photo of the quarry from Google Maps.

deduction

We don’t presume to know which nearby home was responsible for filing the complaint.

Forum posts anywhere tend to very inaccurate, and so I sought verification of the broad strokes of the story.

lancaster police blotter

The Lancaster Police Facebook page provided some of the information:

Patrols responded to a Pavement Road address after a resident there reported that a bullet struck his shed and had nearly struck his son. Patrols located several individuals shooting guns in a quarry across the street from the complainant’s residence. The individuals initially denied being responsible. The three individuals were taken back to the station and their vehicle was towed. Patrols conducted an investigation with New York State D.E.C. officers. A 28 year old male subject from Salt Lake City, Utah was found to be responsible for firing the round and was charged with reckless endangerment in the first degree (a class D felony). The subject was arraigned in front of a Town of Lancaster Court justice, who set bail at $2,000.00. The other subjects were released without charges.

I then took the liberty of contacting James D. Tresmond, attorney for the driver of the car and owner of the AR-style rifle confiscated after the vehicle was impounded.

According to Mr. Tresmond, the Lancaster PD contacted his client and said that they would be returning his rifle today. They should be returning the rifle, as it should be considered NY SAFE Act compliant by the installation of AR MR2 device.

AR MR2 is a replacement for your AR-15’s current magazine lock or factory magazine catch developed to address the latest round of bans in NY, MD, CT, and CA. It installs in about 5 minutes, can be made permanent if necessary, and can also convert your AR into a top-loader if desired.

If the Lancaster Police refuse to return the rifle to Mr. Tresmond’s client—who has not be charged with anything at this point even after being cuffed, detained, his car impounded and his rifle seized—then we may have our first post-registration NY SAFE case pending.

Details are very fluid at the moment. We’ll keep you abreast of the situation as we know more.